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‘Betty Stogs’ helps raise charity figure

Posted: May 9, 2023
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When the Cornish Pirates recently played Jersey Reds at home in the semi-final of this season’s Championship Cup, the atmosphere was considerably boosted by the presence for several individuals who have been associated in the past with the inimitable Falmouth Marine Band.

Included among them were former band leader Paul Wickes and Fred Thomas (known to many as ‘Betty Stogs’).


The sound of a big drum and horns reverberated as the gathered group firstly paraded around the ground pre-match and then when they watched from the terraces during the game.


Mentioning the drum, in a slightly different context the opportunity is taken to worthily beat the drum in commendation of Paul and Fred, who not only during the evening were given the opportunity to make a collection in support of Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW) and the RNLI but will also at the end of this month continue their fundraising for the charities by competing in a 100-mile bike ride in London.


Paul has commented:


“Fred and I are trying to achieve the London Classics Iron Man medal this year by adding a 100-mile Bike ride in London at the end of May and then a 2-mile swim on lake Serpentine at the end of September, having previously also run the London marathon.


“The bike ride is the hardest event because we have to complete 102 miles in a maximum of 8.5 hours. Unlike our training rides in Cornwall, the London ride is much less hilly meaning we don’t get to coast or recover – we cycle non-stop.”


Paul added:


“Fred and I have been completing a series of endurance events to support local good causes. In 2019 we ran the London Marathon together with two of Fred’s friends raising £55k between us.


“In 2020 and 2021 in between lockdowns we rowed a ‘socially distanced’ raft 10 miles from the top of the river at Truro into Falmouth carrying a barrel of Beer with the same name as Betty. We raised around £8k and in the process proved fundraising was still possible despite the pandemic.

Also, in 2021, we cycled from Bristol to St. Austell via Bideford, a total of 215 miles over 3 days, climbing a total of 16,000 feet which is the equivalent of half the height of Mount Everest! A total of 100 riders completed the event raising £240k for CHSW.


“Fred completed the same event with my son Rob last year and everyone raised a further £180k. I missed the ride because Covid gave me three dangerous blood clots in my leg, which I only fully recovered from a few weeks ago.


“We are splitting our collection from both London events between CHSW and the RNLI as I chair the RNLI South and West Cornwall fundraising groups and Fred’s main charity is CHSW.


“Through my time with FMB and the RNLI I have collected nearly £300k in 26 years but Dame Betty has collected an incredible £360k in only 15 years.


“Our motivation to spend months training is because we know we can help amazing causes to keep looking after others.”


Liaising with Phil Westren at the Cornish Pirates, Paul thanked the club and their supporters for their amazing support. £640 was collected at the rugby match, which Paul said was fantastic!